Plant Food Vs. Fertilizer: Understand Their Differences

Is plant food fertilizer is the most frequently asked question among gardeners, especially beginners. You might believe that they are the same, but plant food vs. fertilizer is much different from each other.

Both of these sources can be your main gardening solutions, depends on diverse types of plants. But to improve plant health, you should understand each term precisely and redefine misconceptions.

Plant Food Vs. Fertilizer: What Is The Difference?

Plant Food Occurs Naturally While Fertilizer Does Not

What is plant food? Indoor garden plants produce their food. They require water and solar energy from the owner to begin this process, but the whole process of photosynthesis happens naturally.

You will not need to trigger the houseplant through any foreign or chemical products because it will do it independently when necessary. If photosynthesis does not occur, your plant may be having a problem.

On the other hand, fertilizing is not a natural process. You can get natural fertilizers, but you have to feed the greenery to take in plant nutrients. This act needs to be repeated over many periods.

Fertilizer Is A Commercial Product

As you go online searching for plant food, there will be loads of items claiming to be plant food. Given that you cannot buy food for plants commercially, these products are instead fertilizers.

No matter what the product label indicates, we are talking about naturally occurring plant food in this article. And though there is an extra cost to get commercial fertilizer, it still makes the plant healthy.

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Houseplants Make Plant Food More Than Your Fertilizing Schedule

How often does an indoor plant make its variety of food? It depends on your type of plant. Since essential nutrients go through depletion, photosynthesis will occur semi-often – about every couple of weeks.

Based on indoor gardening knowledge, you will not need to design such a houseplant fertilizing schedule. It is ideal for fertilizing a plant once every 3 months and avoid a more significant amount to maintain the ratio.

Below are some easy ways to provide nutrients to your indoor plants:

When To Use Plant Food?

Houseplants are brilliant in producing food themselves for survival. So if you wonder does plant food works, it will contribute a large part to healthy plant growth. This is a function of a photosynthesis process.

Once you feed the plant with essential nutrients, it will absorb them from the soil with your added water and sunlight. Air comes from the surrounding place to deliver carbon dioxide that enters via its leaves.

In terms of plant food nutrients, the penetrated carbon dioxide will interact with chlorophyll (leaf pigment). The plant gets a food mix of sugar and carbohydrates that travels within it every time you water.

This is how your indoor houseplant creates necessary plant food to keep itself growing with the help of the air, the sun, and water. You should not spend extra money to buy commercially-made plant food.

When To Use Fertilizer?

Micronutrients and macronutrients have already kept the plant alive, so why do plants need fertilizer? Fertilizer works to fill any nutrient gaps and supplement several nutrients to prevent risks of deficiency.

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There are different types of fertilizer in either a synthetic or natural form: liquid fertilizer, granular fertilizer, slow-release fertilizer, etc. You may wonder what does fertilizer contains to boost plant growth?

Fertilizers are a mixture of micronutrients, macronutrients, fillers, or ballast. You will find some available fertilizer products on the market with 3 significant macronutrients: potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus.

Other popular micronutrients for plants are iron and calcium. If you use organic fertilizer, it will include organic ingredients, such as zinc, boron, manganese, copper, chlorine, iron, calcium, and molybdenum.

It is advisable to buy a package of fertilizer that contains the proper nutrients your indoor plant needs. For example, if you want to enable foliage growth for the plant, get a fertilizer that is primarily nitrogen.

As mentioned above, it would be best that you fertilize the plant once every 3 months, or even longer. If you feed a large houseplant fertilizer amount in shorter periods, overfertilizing may kill the plant.


Can you tell the difference between plant food vs. fertilizer now? New gardeners commonly mistake these 2 terms, but you can take much better care of houseplants once you learn to distinguish them.

The best you can do to promote plant growth in organic gardening is to provide your greenery with balanced sunlight, water, and air ratio. These factors will enable the houseplant to self-produce its food.

At the same time, you should fertilize this plant as instructed to avoid inadequate nutrition that poses a threat to its overall health. Always remember that an excessive amount of fertilization can kill the plant.

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We hope you have understood what plant food is and how it is not like fertilizer through this article. This information seems irrelevant, but it will help you a lot in home gardening. Thank you for reading.

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Jill Sandy

I am a sustainable focus gardener. I love decorating my home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques I develop myself.